Choosing a Childbirth Class

Taking a childbirth class during pregnancy is the best way to learn about labor and delivery. You will also learn about possible complications, interventions and procedures. Here is some information on the Bradley and Lamaze methods...

by Patricia Hughes

pregnancy-wife-and-husband.jpgTaking a childbirth class during pregnancy is the best way to learn about labor and delivery. You will also learn about possible complications, interventions and procedures. You will have the chance to ask questions of the instructor. Taking a childbirth class helps reduce anxiety and may lessen the need for pain medications in labor. You will learn relaxation and breathing techniques to help you deal with the pain of labor. The two most common classes are Bradley and Lamaze. 

The Bradley Method

The Bradley Method is also called Husband Coached Childbirth. This method was developed by Dr. Robert Bradley in the 1940s and was revolutionary at that time. This method emphasizes natural childbirth without medication and minimal interventions. The great majority of graduates from this program go on to have completely drug free births. Most women planning a home birth choose [tag-ice]Bradley classes[/tag-ice].

The classes last longer than most other methods, with twelve sessions being standard. The course covers nutrition, exercise, pregnancy, the postpartum period and breastfeeding in addition to labor and child birth. In addition, you will learn about possible complications that can occur during [tag-cat]pregnancy[/tag-cat] and birth. This is one of the most comprehensive courses offered.

The focus of the Bradley Method is on relaxation. The woman is taught to focus within her body, rather than relying on distraction from outside. A quiet atmosphere is preferred with minimal interruptions. You will learn to use deep breathing, similar to how you breathe in your sleep to relax your body and work with your body’s natural ability to birth a baby. You will learn exercises for pregnancy, positions for the various phases of labor and massage.

Lamaze Classes

The typical Lamaze course lasts for six sessions. The classes give a good overview of pregnancy and child birth, but aren’t as intensive as Bradley classes. Unlike Bradley, these classes don’t advocate against the use of drugs in labor. You will learn techniques to deal with labor naturally. You will also be given information regarding the pain relief options that are available during labor.

The Lamaze method teaches a variety of patterned breathing techniques for use during labor. Some women find these helpful, while others have difficulty remembering the patterns. Practice between classes is important. The focus is on external distractions, rather than focusing inward on your body as in the Bradley method. A picture or other object is often used as a focal point to help distract you during labor.

Other Classes

Some hospital classes don’t use either Bradley or Lamaze. Many of these are hybrid courses that teach a bit of a variety of different philosophies. Some focus on natural pain relief methods more than others. Some focus more on medical interventions and preparing you for the typical hospital procedures and medically managed birth. These are known as prepared [tag-tec]child birth classes[/tag-tec], rather than natural child birth methods. 

Choosing a Childbirth Class

The class you choose will depend on your own beliefs about birth. When inquiring about a class, ask the instructor about the overall philosophy of the class and the topics covered. Ask the instructor about her training, philosophy, the size of the course and content. A smaller class size is better for getting to know the other couples.

There are several ways to find a course. Ask your doctor, midwife, hospital, family or friends for recommendations. Lamaze International has a website with information on the program and courses in your area. The American Academy of Husband Coached Childbirth is the organization for the Bradley Method. Their website can help you find instructors in your area. Bradley classes are often offered at birthing centers or the instructor’s home. The class size is generally smaller.  

Good Luck and Congratulations on your future arrival from all of us here at More4kids.

Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2007

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